by Emily Waldrep
A Woodville man identified as Danal Ray Peterson, age 36, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of Abandon Endanger Child Criminal Negligence after leading police on an approximately five mile car chase with his two young daughters inside the vehicle without child safety seats or seat belts.
According to Bryan Weatherford with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, on April 25 at approximately 9 a.m. deputies were dispatched to a disturbance on Highway 92 South near Spurger.
The caller stated that her son, Peterson, was acting highly paranoid and very agitated and had just assaulted his girlfriend. He was making his two four-year-old daughters lay on the ground in fear that people were coming for them. Dispatchers advised deputies while they were en route that Peterson had said he was going to "take the children where they wouldn't feel any pain."
Before deputies arrived, Peterson left his residence in his car and the caller told deputies an approximate location that he might have been. Deputies were able to locate Peterson's vehicle on County Road 4415. Deputies attempted to block the vehicle from entering the roadway but Peterson went around the patrol cars and continued to travel toward FM 92.
According to Weatherford, as deputies attempted to stop Peterson's vehicle they observed a white male exit from the passenger door as the car was still moving with his hands in the air. Deputies continued pursuit of the vehicle that Peterson was driving because it had been reported that his two daughters were inside of the vehicle with him. Peterson turned the vehicle onto FM 92 and the Tyler County Sheriff's Department was assisted by the Woodville Police Department in the chase at speeds of approximately 70-75 miles per hour.
"Peterson kept putting his arms out of the vehicle and appeared to be waving and/or discarding items from the vehicle," said Weatherford. The items were later identified as several items of drug paraphernalia, including syringes and baggies.
Once Peterson arrived in Woodville he turned on County Road 4420, where deputies observed multiple items being thrown from the vehicle, the largest being a camouflage bag. The suspect then made it back to 92, drove through a ditch, and then traveled back to his original residence.
Peterson exited the vehicle with two small children in his arms. Officers approached and gave verbal commands for Peterson to put the children down, but he failed to comply. An officer was able to remove the children from Peterson's arms while other deputies secured him with handcuffs on the ground.
It was later determined that the passenger that exited the vehicle was Cory Barker, who said he was a passenger in the vehicle when it left the residence with the two children; but, Barker said he did not want to be part of the crime after a chase had ensued. Barker said Peterson was driving very erratically and speeding with the children in the car.
"There were no child safety seats in the vehicle and the children stated that they couldn't get their seat belts on," Weatherford said. "A lot of people may question if we should have pursued the vehicle or should we have not, but the thing is we were aware that these children were in danger no matter what happened. Officers were in constant contact via radio and we were monitoring speeds, traffic was light, and if it had gotten to the point that officers felt the children were in any danger we would have had to disengage the pursuit; but at that time, we could not let him continue on with the children that he had already made threats to."
Peterson was charged with Evading Arrest Detention with Vehicle, Tamper Fabricate Physical Evidence with Intent to Impair, two counts of Abandon Endanger Child Criminal Negligence, Resist Arrest Search or Transport and Terroristic Threat of Family/Household.
Danal Peterson will undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Burke Center.